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SOME UNDISTINGUISHED NEGROES
Fred Fowler was born about 1832 in Frederick County, Mary-
land. His first master, Michael Reel, had a farm and a flour mill
about four miles from Frederick City. Reel owned sixteen slaves,
among whom were Fred's mother and her eight children. Fred's
father belonged to a man named Doyle, who had an adjoining
farm. Doyle sold the father to a man named Fisher, who sub-
sequently put up the first gas factory in Frederick.
On the death of Michael Reel, in 1847, his estate had to be
divided. Some of the slaves were disposed of according to ap-
praisement, others at auction. Fred, then about fifteen years old,
was taken at the appraised value of $400 by a son of the deceased
Reel. If auctioned off, he thought he might have brought some-
At this sale his mother and one child were bought for $500 by
a man named Todd, who subsequently sold her to Dr. Shipley.
Four children were purchased by men supposed to be traders, who
presumably took them to Georgia, which, according to the senti-
ment of "Nellie Gray," was the slave's notion of some far-away
place where the speculators found a market. No one of these four
was ever seen or heard from after they were put on the train for
Baltimore. The other children, two sisters, were taken away by a
man named Roach, but that was all that was then known. The
almost invariable rule in the inter-state slave-trade was that sepa-
ration ended all communication with those left behind. In 1887 —
forty years after the sale — these sisters wrote a letter to a colored
church in Frederick asking for information about the slaves that
belonged to the Reel family. Someone in the church knew that
Fred Fowler was living in Washington, D. C. The letter was for-
warded to him and from it he learned that these sisters had been
taken to Columbia, Tennessee and were still living. A meeting
When Fred was twenty years old, young Reel, who was about
to move to Springfield, Illinois, sold him privately for $1,000
to Dr. Willis who lived in New Market, Frederick County, Mary-
Some Undistinguished Negroes 477
land. That was a high price for the time and place. Fowler was
with Dr. Willis for three or four years as a farmhand. The Doctor
was the physician for the notorious inter-state slave traders B. M.
and W. L. Campbell. They had a large jail in Baltimore for their
purchases in Maryland. In New Orleans they had another, where
most of their sales were made. The Doctor went to Baltimore
once or twice a week to examine and prescribe for the Campbell
slaves. In the farming season, when there was need of extra
labor, he would bring some of them out to work for him.
Mrs. Salmon, a Quaker, told Fowler that Dr. Willis contem-
plated selling him the following winter, probably because some less
valuable slave eould do the work. All slaves dreaded being sold,
for, if young and strong, it usually meant being "sold South."
So in the spring of 1858 Fowler made up his mind to run away.
He and another slave started one Saturday night and safely
walked to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania by the early morning.
Promptly on Monday Dr. Willis issued a handbill offering $200
reward for the recovery of his runaway. Fowler knew no details
of this until perhaps thirty or forty years later, when a son of
Dr. Willis gave him one of the handbills. It was shown about
1905 to the present writer who had it carefully typewritten as to
the lines and capitalization, but the size of the letters could not be
reproduced. The original was duly returned to Fowler, but un-
fortunately he subsequently lost or mislaid it. It was tiny for a
handbill — only about six inches long and four inches wide and was
worded and lined thus: —
Ranaway from the subscriber, living
at New Market, Frederick Co., Md.,
On Saturday Night, the 8th.
op May inst., a Negro Man,
named Fred Fowler, aged about
26 years, five feet ten or eleven
inches high, stout made, dark
copper color, round full eye, upper
teeth full and even, has a down look
when spoken to, lisps slightly in his
speech, and has small hands; no
other marks recollected. Had on
when he left, dark pants and coat and
478 Jouenal op Negro Histoey
The above reward will be given
for the arrest of said Negro, if taken out
of the State of Maryland, and his de-
livery to the subscriber; or one hun-
dred dollars, if taken in the State, and
secured in jail.
Dr. W. L. Willis.
New Market, Md., May 10, 1858."
The same wording long appeared as an advertisement in the Balti-
more Sun. Both were all in vain.
A free Negro, associated with the underground railroad in
Pennsylvania and working as a mason for a eompany of men who
built large barns in Maryland, had told Fowler to report in Gettys-
burg to a man by the name of Mathers. The runaways did so and
were concealed until the next night. They then walked to Carlisle,
Pennsylvania. There they remained that day. During the night
they went on to Harrisburg. Some Abolitionists took charge of
them and put them on a farm about eight miles from town. In
August, they proceeded to Bradford, Canada West. There Fowler
found an aunt who had run away with a party of twelve, many
years before. He worked on a farm until May, 1862, when he
went to the American Hotel in Lockport, New York to become a
waiter. In August, 1863 he left for Hartford, Connecticut, to
enlist in the 29th Regiment of Connecticut Colored Volunteers.
The regiment was turned over to the Government in March, 1864,
and was then taken by boat from Hartford to Annapolis Maryland,
and there transhipped to Beaufort, South Carolina.
At Beaufort they had a few little skirmishes. Once they were
about surrounded by the Confederates for five days, and were
without food a part of the time. The Confederates were between
Beaufort and Hilton Head, but did not know to what disadvantage
they had the colored regiment.
In the summer of 1864 the regiment was moved to Bermuda
Hundred, Virginia. On the day of landing they took part in an
engagement at Malvern Hill. They were in several skirmishes
and were finally attacked at Strawberry Plains. From there they
were taken to the Weldon railway, for the purpose of cutting off
the southern connection with Richmond. They fought there three
days and tore up the track. To make the rails useless they were
Some Undistinguished Negroes 479
heated red-hot and twisted around trees. Later, the regiment was
taken back to the neighborhood of Fort Harrison, on which they
made an attack. After a few weeks they took the Fort and re-
mained there all winter and until a few days before the fail of
Early in April, 1865, on a Sunday afternoon the troops in Fort
Harrison saw a large mass of Confederates marching in plain view
in front of them. "We thought there must be a million of them
marching there ! " It was supposed that the Confederates intended
soon to attack Fort Harrison. The occupants of the Fort sent out
videttes so as to give the earliest possible notice of it. Those in
the Fort made every preparation for resistence. But there was no
attack. That night three unarmed Confederates came to the
videttes and reported that there were no troops in front; that the
Confederate lines had long been very thin and that the Federals
could march right into Richmond.
This was found to be true, for on the following day the Union
troops started for the Confederate capitol. Fowler's regiment
reached there on the morning of the fall and went to State House
Hill, but camped close to Libby prison, down near the river. A
few days later — a day or two before Lincoln was shot — they left
Richmond for City Point, where they first heard of his death.
From there they were taken to Point Lookout, Maryland, to aid in
the search for Booth. After Booth was captured, the regiment
returned to City Point, and a week later was ordered to Browns-
ville, Texas, for the special purpose of getting the supplies, — a
great collection of cotton, wagons and all sorts of munitions — that
General Kirby Smith had tried to take to Mexico. The regiment
remained there until the 15th day of October, when Fowler and
the others were mustered out of the United States service.
In the spring of 1876 he was appointed a messenger in the
Library of Congress, which was then and until about 1900 in the
Capitol just west of the great dome. He was a strong willing
worker. Doctor Spofford relied on him to find and bring forth
from dark and dusty storerooms the files of old newspapers when
needed for historical purposes. By the time that the magnificent
Library of Congress building was completed and things were in
shipshape, Fowler had reached an age when he was entitled to and
given less heavy work.
For nearly twenty years he was daily at the door of the Reading
Room to admit readers and to refer sightseers to the gallery for
480 JOTJBNAL, OF NEGRO HlSTOBY
the best view of the grand and beautiful rotunda. He was always
so cheerful and polite that it gave one pleasure to see and exchange
greetings with him. His remarkable and most honorable career
caused him to be regarded with much wonder by persons of the
young generation, especially if from the North. By the whole
staff of the Library and by the many research workers that daily
came there, he was regarded with a fondness such as was felt
toward no one else.
He died October 9, 1919, at the advanced age of about 87 and
was buried in the great National Cemetery in Arlington, Vir-
ginia. There his grave and name can be seen among those of men
who fought to preserve the Union, and in doing so destroyed
slavery — the "sacred institution" of the old South and "the
corner-stone" of the short lived Confederacy. Fred Fowler served
his race and his country well and he was well rewarded.
Some Observations on the Death op
On the 21st of February 1918 the Oxford Press carried the
The death on Monday in Oxford of Rachel Parker Wesley, an
aged colored' woman, recalls an incident of the slavery times pre-
vious to the War of the Rebellion, in which Rachel was a principal
figure. The question of slavery was paramount then, and later
became one of the burning issues of the war. Maryland was a
slave State, and an ablebodied negro man was worth in the slave
market as much as $1400, while a girl often brought $1000. Fre-
quently negroes were taken from the free State of Pennsylvania
across into Maryland, where they might be sold.
Rachel Parker lived at the time with the family of Joseph
Miller, on the farm in West Nottingham now owned by S. S. Boyd.
It was on the last day of December, 1850, that she was kid-
napped from this home by three men, Thomas McCrery, John
Merritt and George Alexander, the latter figuring as the driver of
the wagon. It was about 11 o'clock in the morning.
The team took a road, now vacated, that led to old Pine Grove
school house. They found the road blocked by the wagon of James
Pollock, and his son Samuel, who were loading wood. On demand
that the wagon be removed so that they could pass at once, James
Pollock refused, and when McCrery drew a sword he brandished
Some Undistinguished Negroes 481
The kidnappers then turned and made their way to Notting-
ham, and by way of Stubbs' Mill, Chrome and Calvert, proceeded
to Perryville, from which point they entrained for Baltimore.
When the capture of Rachel Parker became known there was
considerable excitement in the community. Rachel was born of
free parents and that she had been carried away into possible
slavery was too much for the sturdy abolitionists of that day.
A party of eight was organized to go in pursuit. They were
Joseph Miller, William Morris, Samuel Pollock, Lewis Melrath,
Jesse B. Kirk, Abner B. Richardson, Benjamin Purniss, H. G.
These men went to Perryville and that night took a train for
Baltimore. They went to a house of detention or slave pen in that
city where runaway slaves were kept. While they were there
McCrery appeared with Rachel Parker in a wagon.
The Pennsylvanians protested that the girl was not a slave, but
was free, and the authorities ordered that she be held and given
The Pennsylvanians met an acquaintance named Francis
Cochran, who resided in Baltimore. When he learned their
errand he told them they were in mortal danger, and advised them
to get at once on a train and not leave it until they arrived at
Joseph Miller left the car, or the train, and was not seen again
by his friends, although search was made for him. His body was
found some hours afterwards, hanging in a woods near Stemmer's
Run. Just how he met his death is a mystery that never was made
clear. It was claimed at the time that investigation proved that
Miller was dead before his body was hanged to the tree, and that
he had been poisoned.
Rachel Parker was gone more than 14 months, most of that
time locked up in Baltimore. Her trial was postponed from time
It was claimed in Baltimore that Rachel Parker was a member
of a family named Crocus, and that they were runaway slaves.
In an effort to prove this, people were sent to this neighborhood to
try to identify other members of the Parker family as in reality
belonging to the Crocus family. The attorney who ably defended
Rachel Parker was Lloyd Norris. She was acquitted, and she is
said to have been the only person so freed in a slave State.
For more than 40 years Rachel lived with the Coates family,
482 Journal op Negbo History
near Glenroy. To Granville Coates, Sr., The Press is indebted for
the details of the affair, which are from records which he has
On the 28th of February, 1918 the Oxford Press carried the
The account of the death in Oxford of Rachel Parker Wesley,
an aged colored woman, in last week's Oxford Press, has been
closely read. Some older citizens, in town and country, recall the
circumstances and the high excitement that prevailed at the time
Rachel Parker, then a girl, was kidnapped.
Of all the men who desired that justice be done Rachel Parker,
who was kidnapped by Thomas McCrery and others on the last
day of 1851, from the home of Joseph C. Miller, West Nottingham,
township, not one took deeper and more determined interest in the
matter than the late Dr. John Miller Dickey of Oxford. He be-
came a leader in the affair and repeatedly went to Baltimore,
where Rachel was in jail, and got a number of the most influential
citizens of Baltimore interested to have justice brought about.
The late Levi K. Brown of Lancaster county was also active in
the matter and rendered much valuable assistance.
The matter had now become so generally known that effectual
help was received from the late Senator Henry S. Evans, West
Chester, who brought the circumstances to the attention of our
Legislature, by which means the case became a State affair.
Dr. Dickey and others attended the trial in January, 1853.
The proceedings lasted eight days, during which, as one of the
claimant's attorneys expressed it, "an entire neighborhood" ap-
peared and "an avalanche of testimony" was borne to the girl's
free birth. Evidence was produced from Baltimore that she was
not the girl who had been lost. Forty-nine witnesses were heard
and many more were ready when a compromise was proposed and
agreed to. Notwithstanding this overwhelming evidence, there
was still some fear that a Baltimore jury would decide against
the girl, and it was thought wise to give way. The chief end was
gained : Rachel Parker was declared free born ; the same jury gave
a verdict also for her sister Elizabeth who had been found in New
Orleans and brought North, and the two were restored to their
The costs of the trial were divided, these amounting to $1000,
besides $3000 expended by the State of Pennsylvania and heavy
outlays by friendly citizens of Baltimore and Chester County.
Some Undistinguished Negboes 483
Judge Bell of West Chester, one of the Pennsylvania counsel,
wrote thus after all was over to the West Chester Republican and
"Too much praise cannot be accorded to the host of witnesses
from Chester County and the neighboring districts, who promptly
on the call of justice and humanity, exchanged the comforts of
home for the inconvenience and supposed dangers of sojourn in a
strange city, under circumstances well calculated to deter a merely
selfish person from obeying the summons. This praise is peculiarly
due to the numerous ladies of our county whose sense of right
overcame every merely personal consideration."
The "supposed dangers" referred to, of which the murder of
Joseph C. Miller was a sign, were realized by Dr. Dickey, who his
son, the late J. M. Dickey, Esq., told, "would go to trial in
Baltimore, not knowing how he would come back. Once he was
very near death at their hands."
The concluding local action of this ease of wide agitation was
West Nottingham, Jan. 17, 1853.
At a meeting of the witnesses and others who attended the
Court of Baltimore county, in the case of the girls, Rachel and
Elizabeth Parker, the following was passed:
"Whereas, By the blessings of Divine Providence, the two girls
Rachel and Elizabeth Parker, have been restored to the State of
Pennsylvania, where they were threatened, by a lawless and un-
just removal ; and whereas, similar cases are likely to occur, and in
the excited state of public opinion on the subject of Slavery, both
in the Northern and Southern States, difficulties exist in the way
of the administration of law and justice where colored persons are
petitioning for their freedom, we regard it as a duty we owe to
those who may be engaged in similar prosecutions, as well as to
those who have mainly aided in obtaining success in this case to
put upon record the following resolutions :
"That we regard with great satisfaction the conduct of the
Executive of our State, who, at the suggestion of the Senator and
Representatives of our county, assumed the control and responsi-
bilities of the trial; and that we tender our sincere thanks to the
distinguished counsel, Attorney-General Campbell and Judge Bell,
who visited at different times this place to become familiar with
and to give encouragement to the witnesses to about to testify in
another State, thus accomplishing the object as well by their
urbanity as well as by their professional skill.
484 Journal, of Negro History
' ' That we express our sincere acknowledgement of the courtesy
shown us by the Court of Baltimore county, both by the bench
and bar and especially to Wm. H. Norris, Esq., for his invaluable
services, associated as counsel with those from our own State.
"That we deplore the death of Joseph C. Miller, a witness in
the first trial before the magistrate's court, and believing, as we
most positively do, that he came to his death violently by other
hands than his own, we implore the Executive to offer a suitable
reward, in addition to that offered by his friends, for the discovery
and apprehension of his murderers.
John M. Dickey,
Hugh Rowland, Secreary.
It may be added that the Grand Jury of Chester county brought
in a true bill against Thomas McCrery and Merritt, his associate,
for kidnapping. But Governor Lowe of Maryland refused the
requisition for apprehension and delivery, going behind the record,
contrary to the law, as Governor Bigler of Pennsylvania demon-
strated clearly in the published correspondence.
Some Ohio Negro Pioneers
In 1835 some of the earnest free colored people of Virginia
were interested in reports of the great opportunities for colored
folk in the State of Ohio, so often called the Buckeye State. At
that time there were no railroads from the slave State Virginia to
Ohio, a free State. But the determined freemen and their families
undeterred by this drawback went forth in covered wagon trains.
One of the earlier groups of pioneers consisted of several
families from and near Richmond Virginia; namely, Abraham
Depp and his wife Mary Goode-Depp, Elias Litchford, James
Poindexter, and Archer Goode, with their families, and Samuel
Willis Whyte accompanied by his son bearing the same name, all
of whom settled in central Ohio, not far from Columbus. Abra-
ham Depp purchased five or six hundred acres, south of Delaware ;
Litchford about the same number of acres nearer Columbus; the
elder "Whyte, being a mechanic, purchased only about two hundred
arces. Samuel W. "Whyte Jr. later left his trade for the profession
of medicine and became noted as a specialist of chronic diseases.
Dr. Samuel Whyte married Miss Louisa Goode, daughter of Archer
Goode. She was of a peculiar sweet disposition, a model com-
panion, and a loving earnest mother. She as often called Saint
Louisa by those who knew her best. She died in 1905.
Some Undistinguished Negroes 485
The Doctor always kept in touch with the leading thoughts and
achievements of his day. He was a brilliant scholar, a great
logician, with a keen wit, having a dash of eccentricity through-
out ; in fact, he was a born philosopher, and a man of many parts.
He was educated for missionary work to Liberia, but he remained
at home and became one of the landmarks of Central Ohio in
politics and medicine. He was born in 1815 and died in 1902,
when, as it happened in the case of his wife whom he survived
seven years, he was borne to his final resting place from the home
where he had lived since 1835. Dr. Whyte and his wife had a
large family of whom the writer, H. Georgiana "Whyte, alone bears
the family name. The old homestead is retained by the de-
All through Ohio settled many such high minded, thorough-
going Christian Negro families that helped to build up Ohio and
left large families, of worthy descendants. Of this pioneer group
one of the most prominent characters was James Poindexter, who
sold his farm of forty acres and went to Columbus, Ohio to live.
He was a playmate and always an ardent friend of Dr. Samuel
Willis Whyte, Jr. There James Poindexter became a Baptist
minister and during later years became one of the foremost citizens
of Columbus, having become a member of the city council and for
over forty years served as pastor of the most prominent Baptist
church in the city. He was in great demand as an orator before
and after the Civil War. He lived to a ripe old age.
H. Georgiana Whyte.
Henry Alexander a mulatto who lived at Mayslick, Kentucky,
and who purchased his freedom when twenty-one years of age,
sent his two oldest daughters to school in Philadlphia as early as
1846. He was a store-keeper and grain merchant. In the fifties
he sent three younger ones to Oberlin, Ohio where Louisa Alex-
ander was graduated in 1862. She and her older sister Rachel
taught in the South during the Reconstruction period and had
many thrilling experiences. In several instances their schools were
closed and they were given so many hours to leave town. Maria
Ann, who went to school in Philadelphia, taught a while in Coving-
ton, Kentucky, strange as it may seem, before the war. She was
later married to the late Judge Mifflin W. Gibbs, an unflinching
advocate of human rights. Q. G. H.